Global coronavirus cases are expected to pass 30 million today, according to a Reuters tally, with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing.
India was firmly in focus as the latest epicentre, although North and South America combined accounted for almost half of the global cases.
Global new daily case numbers reached record levels in recent days and deaths neared 1 million as the international race to develop and market a vaccine heated up.
The official number of global coronavirus cases is now more than five times the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to World Health Organization data.
Trump contradicts CDC director:
President Donald Trump took exception on Wednesday to comments from the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said a vaccine for the novel coronavirus could be broadly rolled out in mid-2021 and that masks might be even more effective.
Robert Redfield, in testimony to a congressional committee, said that general availability of a vaccine could come by "late second quarter, third quarter 2021."
Trump, at a news conference, said he believed a vaccine will be rolled out much sooner. He said he called Redfield after his testimony to question him about it, and that Redfield appeared to have been confused by the question.
"I think he made a mistake when he said that," Trump said of Redfield's testimony. "I don't think he means that. When he said it, I believe he was confused."
'Fantastic outcome' in Australia's virus epicentre:
Australia on Thursday reported its lowest one-day rise in new Covid-19 cases in nearly three months, as states said restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the virus will be further relaxed.
Australia said 35 cases of Covid-19 have been detected in the past 24 hours, the lowest one-day rise since June 24.
Victoria state – Australia's Covid-19 epicentre - accounted for the bulk of the new cases, with 28 people diagnosed with the virus in the past 24 hours.
"It is a fantastic outcome and a tribute to the hard work, sacrifice and contribution every single Victorian is making and I want to say thank you," Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
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